Policing and Crime Bill Proposes to Raise Penalty for "Religiously Aggravated Offense"

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: January 18, 2017

During the debate in the House of Lords, the Government was asked what would qualify for a "religiously motivated offense" and whether it could include a Christian preaching the "supreme divinity of Christ." The Government responded that this would be up to prosecutors and courts.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP) asked: "My Lords, I notice that in Amendment 134A the proposal is to increase the penalty from seven to 14 years for what is described as an offence, 'which consists of a racially or religiously aggravated offence under section 4 … of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997'. Before we agree to this increase in the penalty, will the Minister enlighten us about what, particularly, a religious ly motivated offence might be? Specifically—and I have asked this before in Written Questions and had unsatisfactory Answers from the Government—could such an offence be caused by a Christian preaching the supreme divinity of Christ and therefore denying the supremacy of Muhammad? Would various assembled Muslims be free to regard that as a religiously aggravated offence under this section?" Baroness Williams responded for the Government: "On the point that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, made, I fear I will disappoint him again. It is a matter for the court and the CPS to determine the points that he makes." Source: House of Lords Hansard, Policing and Crime Bill debate 18 January, 2017